IT 2529

VS: Googles gebruik van de Java API packages is geen fair use

US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, March 27, 2018 (Oracle v. Google) This copyright case returns to us after a second jury trial, this one focusing on the defense of fair use. Oracle America, Inc. (“Oracle”) filed suit against Google Inc. (“Google”)1 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging that Google’s unauthorized use of 37 packages of Oracle’s Java application programming interface (“API packages”) in its Android operating system infringed Oracle’s patents and copyrights.

At the first trial, the jury found that Google infringed Oracle’s copyrights in the Java Standard Edition platform, but deadlocked on the question of whether Google’s copying was a fair use.2 After the verdict, however, the district court found that the API packages were not copyrightable as a matter of law and entered judgment for Google. Oracle Am., Inc. v. Google Inc., 872 F. Supp. 2d 974 (N.D. Cal. 2012). Oracle appealed that determination to this court, and we reversed, finding that declaring code and the structure, sequence, and organization (“SSO”) of the Java API packages are entitled to copyright protection. Oracle Am., Inc. v. Google Inc., 750 F.3d 1339, 1348 (Fed. Cir. 2014). We remanded with instructions to reinstate the jury’s infringement verdict and for further proceedings on Google’s fair use defense and, if appropriate, on damages. Id. at 1381.

(...) At the second jury trial, Google prevailed on its fair use defense. After the jury verdict, the district court denied Oracle’s motion for judgment as a matter of law (“JMOL”) and entered final judgment in favor of Google.

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Oracle now appeals from the district court’s final judgment and its decisions denying Oracle’s motions for JMOL and motion for a new trial. Google cross-appeals from the final judgment purportedly to “preserv[e] its claim that the declarations/SSO are not protected by copyright law,” but advances no argument for why this court can or should revisit our prior decision on copyrightability. Cross-Appellant Br. 83.

Because we conclude that Google’s use of the Java API packages was not fair as a matter of law, we reverse the district court’s decisions denying Oracle’s motions for JMOL and remand for a trial on damages. We also dismiss Google’s cross-appeal.

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For the foregoing reasons, we conclude that Google’s use of the 37 Java API packages was not fair as a matter of law. We therefore reverse the district court’s decisions denying Oracle’s motions for JMOL and remand for a trial on damages. The district court may determine the appropriate vehicle for consideration of infringement allegations regarding additional uses of Android. We dismiss Google’s cross-appeal.